Gloriosa or glory-lily (Gloriosa rothschildiana) has proved to be one of the noteworthy introductions to American gardens in the first half of the 20th century.
Adapting itself, Gloriosa may be grown as a showy flowering bulb for summer gardens in the northern states. Gardeners report success in New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
Like gladiolus, Gloriosa rothschildiana can be planted in the garden in late spring when the ground is warm. There are a few growing conditions to be met.
The bulbs must have matured and started to sprout to assure hasty growth and bloom. They must have some support, such as a stake five to six feet tall, wire, or a trellis to climb on. A loamy, sandy soil suits them best.
Gloriosa Lilies Are Hot Weather Plants
Given its requirements, the gorgeous gloriosa will bloom in every warm summer state in the country. Providing it has enough water at the roots, it can scarcely be too hot for it.
It is a tropical bulb, blooming in the Florida summer. However, it needs a reasonably long season to mature the bulbs for the second season.
Even if not given this, gloriosas can be freshly planted every year with little expense and splendid results.
They can be set out by the middle of May and allowed to grow to mid-October. They will usually mature tubers strong enough to store food for the following season.
Planting Gloriosa Bulbs In The North
In the north, if climbing lily vines can be sheltered from frost, they can grow ideal tubers. They should be allowed to rest dormant in the ground for a few weeks after the first frost kills the tops, allowing the tubers to mature as much as possible.
Dig them before the ground becomes cold or frozen and store them warm and dry until thoroughly cured. Remove all soil that clings to the tubers and store in dry vermiculite or sawdust in a cool room until spring.
If tubers show signs of excessive sprouting before it is warm enough to plant them in the ground, give them cold storage. Place them in the bottom of the refrigerator for a few weeks to slow sprouting.
Avoid temperatures below 40° degrees Fahrenheit. Sprouted tubers may plant in flat pots or pans for setting out in the garden later.
Numerous reports from gardeners in northern states show that sprouted tubers planted in mid-May in warm, sandy, gardens reach blooming size by late July. Plants need the sun and cold, cloudy weather may delay flowering to August.
Using Gloriosa As Decoration
The flowers have long, spreading, recurved petals that are superb when used in bowls, bud vases, bouquets, arrangements, or corsages. Few flowers are more versatile when used for decoration.
First and foremost, for success, the soil must be warm and crumbled at planting time. Tubers must be starting to sprout or well sprouted to assure quick growth and blooming.
They can be handled as sweet peas, allowed to grow on chicken-wire or string netting.
Avoid fresh manure, since it may induce fungus attacks in the cold, cloudy weather. An application of 5-7-5 commercial fertilizer worked into the soil before planting is sufficient.
Watering with soluble fertilizers and a light side dressing of plant food are helpful, but too much chemical feeding will injure the plants.
The plant height will depend on sunlight, the tuber strength, and the dormancy when planted. At most, they may be three to six feet tall, but under ideal conditions, the largest tubers grow even taller.
There may be 20 to 30 blooms or even more on the main and side branches of a large plant. Yet, only two or three blooms may appear from a small, blooming-size tuber, poorly grown.
The color of gloriosa blossoms, scarlet, and gold, fading to crimson, is unusual among bulbs.
Another unusual feature is that they climb and hold tendrils or “claspers” at the ends of the leaves.
Glory Lily History
Gloriosa lilies date back to Linnaeus, who listed Gloriosa superba in 1753. This species is not as successful in northern gardens, since it blooms naturally very late in the season.
Some enthusiasts have shared of Gloriosas flowering in their Detroit gardens.
Different Varieties of Gloriosa to Grow and Collect
Gloriosa virescens is an attractive orange and yellow dwarf species, with flowers like those of Gloriosa rothschildiana, free blooming and worthy of wider distribution.
The tubers are long and stipple, very distinct from those of Gloriosa rothschildiana and Gloriosa Superba, which are V- or L-shaped, stiff and brittle.
Gloriosa carsoni was described in 1895 from East Africa, eight years before Gloriosa rothschildiana first came to light in the same area.
It has handsome claret and light gold flowers and a tall growing habit like Gloriosa superba. Gloriosa verschuuri, closely related to Gloriosa rothschildiana and perhaps only a form of it.
Several yellow types of gloriosa include a yellow form of Gloriosa superba, which fades to tawny red, and Gloriosa lutea, which came from Kew Gardens in England.
Still a third, a pure yellow gloriosa, which fades to a pale maroon, was imported from Trinidad. It is self-infertile but yields a selection of good yellow hybrids when crossed with Gloriosa carsoni.